Monday, 14 May 2012

M is for...

... the Moomins by Tove Jannson, but I was always of the school of thought that found them weird and creepy so I'm not going to write about them. Instead, I'm going to write about Miffy.

Walk of Fame, Rotterdam. Photo by Ziko van Dijk

I've had a soft spot for the little white rabbit, created by Dick Bruna over 50 years ago now, since Nijntje became a staple feature of my Dutch lessons at university. Her Dutch name is a shortening of konijntje, meaning "little rabbit". Although each language originally had it's own name for her, it was her first English translator, Olive Jones, who came up with the name Miffy - easily pronouncable around the world - by which she is now known in all languages but Dutch. Later books are translated by Patricia Crampton.

The books are as simple as the illustrations - square format for little hands, bright primary colours, fours lines of rhyming text on each pages - and Miffy has become an international style icon. There's an incredible amount of merchandising out there and she even has her own museum.

Yet despite their simplicity, Bruna manages to convey an incredible amount of emotion in a face made up of two dots and a cross. The early books might be rather dated and un-PC in their gender roles, but the books cover pretty much every aspect of toddlerdom while Miffy at the Gallery (Egmont, 2003) is a lovely introduction to modern art.
Miffy at the Gallery

Miffy's BirthdayMiffy is Crying


  1. Oh no, as a Finn I'm sad to hear that you didn't like Moomins but at the same time I'm happy that you are at least familiar with our national treasure.

    Moomins are still hugely popular among Finns. For example, today my kids were wearing their Moomin overalls and sipping their milk from Moomin cups...

    But Miffy is qute, too. Funny, I can't remember the Finnish name for Miffy.

    1. I was vastly oversensitive as a child and put off all kinds of things by the pictures! I'm glad your kids are enjoying them. Fils cadet has his Miffy bowl and plate and used to have a Miffy teether too... ;-) I think, as I wrote above, she's now called Miffy in all languages but Dutch.